With all my misgivings as a busy mum with such gems such as forgetting to dress your kid in book week costume, forgetting to pack their undies for school swim lessons, telling your child that you watched them win their 50 metre running race at the sports carnival when in actual fact I was lined up at the coffee van gas-bagging. Get the picture. Anyway, for all that I have stuffed up, healthy lunchboxes weren’t one of them. For the past 18 years I have slaved over a healthy lunchbox for my boys.This was MY area of expertise and I lovingly and happily did it for years and still do.
That was until I stumbled onto Gold Coast mum Jo Jackson at EatHappySmile and now I’m going to go back to the drawing board.
Meet Jo, self confessed ranter, maniac, fiend and food warrior taking on one lunchbox at a time. Jo has enough swag to turn a school tuckshop on its head. She is one kick arse mum for sure and I love that. Potty mouth, passionate crazed mums are my favourite kind . Lets meet her.
SCNW: Tell us a bit about your food journey with your family..Why you started ? How you started? Was it a slow process or did you just go full hog into it?
JJ: We’ve always been pretty much vego ( with the occasional fresh locally caught line fish) and ate fairly healthy. When my son was constantly getting in trouble at school I realised I had to strip back everything and start from scratch with diet. I learnt so much, studying,studying,studying food and what it ‘ does ‘ . I became concerned with genetically modified foods and started researching. I was horrified to discover that ‘healthy’ things, I, and pretty much the entire population was eating food that contained genetically modified poison. I made a rapid shift and cut out all GMO’s (anything with canola oil,soy,wheat,diary,corn etc). I then got onto a local farmer and started buying spray free and organic vegies from him. We also started our own vegie garden. We buy only organic grass fed dairy,eggs from my friends chickens and we’ve cut out most packaged breads,cereals etc. I also became freaked out by the very dire situation and verge of extinction of orangutans. We as a family pledged to never eat anything with palm oil. That pretty much cut out anything (that was left as free from GMO’s) in a packet. So I started making people aware of what I had learnt through EATHAPPYSMILE. Along this journey the main thing I realised is that food is fuel and how important it was to feed kids healthy foods. I hate seeing sick kids, kids that are overweight being bullied, diabetes, heart disease and ill-health. All preventable through ‘proper’ nutrition….EATHAPPYSMILE is all about me helping mums, dads and kids make a healthy choice rather than an unhealthy one. We are so bombarded with false messages – things like ‘Your too busy, buy this.’ Don’t even get me started on the ‘health food aisle’ – most of which is utter crap also. Like I say – you can have your cake and eat it too – just make it yourself using REAL ingredients.
SCNW: What changes did you notice in your children , emotional, physical etc?
JJ: Vincent who is 8 went from 7 yellow cards ( detentions) in Prep to none in Grade 1 and 1 card in Grade 2. He gets sick a lot LESS and if he does catch something he gets over it a lot quicker. I also notice a big shift in what they choose to eat.Vincent will go get organic brown rice crackers ( the only biscuits we do eat) and cut 1/2 an avocado. Frankie 6 has the immune system of a superhero. They both will chow down on a bag of green beans while watching TV. The better they are the better they want to eat…my husband thinks I have put voodoo brainwash on them !
SCNW: What are the 5 things always in your pantry/fridge?
JJ; A massive container of juicing vegetables and fruits. Feta cheese ( my vice – otherwise I would be a vegan). 2/3rd’s of the fridge are home grown or from the farm in season vegetables. Jalapenos and Byron Bay Chilli Sauce(s).
SCNW: If parents could just do 3 things to improve their children’s diet , what would you suggest?
JJ: 1. Ditch everything in a packet and make it yourself. 2. Give them a good breakfast (5 grain porridge or the like). 3. Get your kids on a product called Juice Plus (17 different fruits/vegies – dehydrated at low temperatures and put into capsule/chews). 1st wholefood nutrition and unless you can juice , make smoothies and do raw food EVERY meal you cant get that much fruit and veg into yourself and your kids. We juice every day and still take Juice Plus.
SCNW: Worst foods/ preservatives for ASD ,ADD or ADHD children.
JJ: ALL PRESERVATIVES!! Even natural ones. Give up the idea that you will be able to feed your kids from a packet. They have to eat clean ( straight out of the ground or off the tree) and run lean. Once you start you will never go back. We all eat better , are much healthier, full of energy and the very best thing is when we go out socially and people comment ‘ look how healthy you look, you’re glowing’.
SCNW: Whats your 5 vices you can’t/won’t give up?
JJ: Vodka . Music. Hair bleach. Holidays. Chocolate (dark chocolate is good for you)! There are plenty of fair trade. palm oil free and vegan options available.
SCNW: Best parts of being a mum and the shit parts?
JJ: Kids make me laugh and keep me active. You cant beat a catnap cuddle. The shit part is the eternal nagging, ‘ have you brushed your teeth, done a wee , where’s your school bag?’ blah blah…
SCNW: Lunchbox tips for parents?
JJ: When they’re going to school I give them a really solid breakfast, plus a fresh vegie/fruit juice. We go to the beach every morning for a walk/swim..this kicks the brain into gear. The kids usually take fruit and a small salad wrap . They then have a banana/hemp/pecan smoothie after school. Too many kids get too much food. Most of it packaged crap that is nutritionally poor. It is a very poor eating habit to get into.
SCNW: What happens when your kids attend a sugar laden birthday party? Do they resist or partake?
JJ: They are allowed 5 things or 3 plus cake. They’re not allowed party pies or sausages and they wouldn’t eat them anyway. Frankie doesn’t eat animals – she loves them too much. Vincent will eat some meat, but usually only something like organic lamb. I don’t eat any meat but my husband does but not very often. I wont buy it, I wont cook it in the house and i wont store it in my fridge. They usually eat the chips, cake and maybe a juice. Of course they will go for the lollies but I remind them that most of those foods contain palm oil/ and / or gelatin and to think of the orangutans – that usually reins them right in. They’re not allowed to take home lolly bags either. I don’t want to be a complete food Nazi 100% of the time. Most people know I am passionate about it and they usually have healthier options on offer – and that’s a great thing. I am far from perfect myself.
SCNW: Favourite travel destination
JJ: Anywhere near the beach that has a good food supply! We’re staying (very unglam) in cabins for Christmas and we will be taking the juicer for fresh juices and the blender for smoothies.
SCNW: What are you also passionate about changing?
JJ: I am committed to making people aware that you are what you eat! If everyone ate a little better – the world would be a better place. I am here to prove that you can stop believing all the marketing bullshit that you’re a) ‘too busy’ and b) ‘buy this its’ healthy’. Its all lies. I can get a homemade organic pizza on your table faster than you can drive to some shit take away and buy one. I can get Anzac biscuits done and dusted in 15 minutes. I can also make hardcore ‘ meat eaters’ love my vego food. We as adults can make our own choices – kids cannot. You don’t let them smoke , drink or drive cars , so why would you let them eat poison?
SCNW: 5 words to describe yourself.
JJ: Passionate, determined , willful , crazy, crusader.
You can find Jo at her blog :